2012 Paralympics: Huge crowds cheer David Weir to victory

 
David Weir Crowds packed into The Mall to watch David Weir win a fourth gold medal at the London 2012 Games

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Thousands of spectators have lined the route of the wheelchair marathon through central London to cheer GB's David Weir to a fourth gold medal at the Games.

He said the support from the sun-baked crowd on the final day of the Games had been "amazing the whole way through".

Team-mate Shelly Woods took the silver in the women's race, as GB cemented third place in the medals table.

Coldplay will perform at the closing ceremony from 20:30 BST.

The event will end what has been the most successful event in Paralympic history.

Start Quote

I've never known a summer like it”

End Quote Hugh Robertson Sports minister

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live on the final day of London 2012, organising committee chairman Lord Coe said: "It has been fantastic. We wanted to raise the bar at the Olympics and I am as proud as everyone at being a part of a team that has unquestionably raised the bar at the Paralympics.

"We get Paralympics sport in this country. I never really doubted that the Paralympic Games would be anything other than a show-stopper."

The Park was closed at 14:30 BST and people with tickets for the last football and rugby matches were ushered into their respective venues.

Those with closing ceremony tickets will not be allowed into the Park until 17:30 BST.

Oscar Pistorius Pistorius, nicknamed "the Blade Runner", won gold in the final race at the Stadium

In a fitting finale to the track and field competition on Saturday, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius - famously known as the "Blade Runner", and one of the faces of the Games - won gold in the the T44 400m.

After the race, the 25-year-old said: "This is one of the most amazing competitions I've ever been a part of, it's been a privilege to be here.

"I think everybody's perceptions of disabled sport has changed."

Channel 4 revealed more than four million people tuned in to watch Pistorius cruise to gold, peaking at 4.2 million during the race.

Targets surpassed

On Sunday, Brazil's Tito Sena won the T46 marathon, while Alberto Suarez of Spain took the gold in the T12 event, breaking his own world record with a time of 2:24:50.

At the scene

Thousands of spectators turned out for the wheelchair marathon, one last chance to see athletes in action as the summer of Olympic and Paralympic sport finally draws to a close.

Many were dressed in GB shirts and they draped union jack flags over the security barriers lining the route near the finish line on The Mall, the scene reminiscent of the cycling, race walk and other London 2012 events which took place on the same streets.

Huge cheers went up when the leading pack - which included GB's David Weir on his way to his fourth gold of the Games - passed by. But enthusiastic applause and flag waving also greeted the lone athletes trailing some five or 10 minutes behind.

Charina Marsden from west London turned out with her teenage daughters Kelly and Melissa. ''This summer has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have made the most of it,'' she said.

Meanwhile, Malcolm and Jan Spillard travelled from Solihull to take in the event and are staying to cheer on Monday's parade of athletes. ''I'm a great lover of atmosphere and this has had it all,'' Mr Spillard, 63, said.

The crowds then swelled to watch Weir, nicknamed "The Weirwolf of London", add a fourth gold medal to his London 2012 haul.

The 33-year-old's triumph, after 5,000m, 1500m and 800m victories, means he matches Sarah Storey as Britain's most successful athlete at the Games.

After securing four wins out of four, he said: "It's a dream come true.

"I did have lots of dreams of winning four gold medals but I think everybody has those dreams. I knew I was capable of doing it."

Competitors in the men's and women's marathons started and finished in The Mall, completing one short and three long loops during the 26.2-mile race through central London.

One spectator on the route near The Mall said the race was the culmination of six weeks of wonderful sport, and that the Paralympics had "taken it up another notch".

"It's been so good being part of the atmosphere."

Weir and Woods would have both needed to secure gold for ParalympicsGB to overtake Russia for second in the medals table.

But Sunday's result gave the team third spot, with a tally of 120, including 34 golds.

Ceremony sold out

Thrilled at winning the silver medal, Woods said: "I can't describe how great it feels. All the hard work is worth it. A silver in London is just unbelievable."

On Saturday, popular swimmer Ellie Simmonds' loss of her S6 100m freestyle title to USA's Victoria Arlen, despite recording a personal best, saw the 17-year-old finish the Games with a haul of two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

"I'm quite emotional," she told 5 live on Sunday. "I'm sad it's ending but I'm looking forward to the closing ceremony and looking back at what I've achieved - I'm surprised at what I've achieved."

She added: "I swam the best I could and to come away with personal bests in every event is brilliant."

Once Sunday's sports have concluded, the closing ceremony will bring the curtain down on what has been one of the most successful Paralympics in the event's history.

Organisers have sold some 2.7 million Paralympic tickets - beating targets by 200,000 and predicted sales by £10m.

Paralympics coverage online

Natasha Baker, Paralympic torch,  Arnaud Assouman

Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "The way the British public has taken it to their heart has just been great. I've never known a summer like it."

The UK's papers on Sunday reflected on what the Observer called a sporting "summer in a million".

"Two sporting extravaganzas, a record-breaking medal haul for Britain, disabled sport showcased as never before… no wonder even the Aussies say it was better than Sydney," said the Independent.

The 70,000 Games volunteers were hailed by the Sunday Express, which said: "Unfailingly cheerful, polite and helpful, [they] not only made the Games a success, but restored pride in some good, old-fashioned British values."

Stars due to perform at Sunday's sold-out ceremony include Jay-Z and Rihanna.

The live broadcast of the ceremony is due to start at 20:30 BST and organisers hope it will finish by 23:00 BST.

British stars of the Olympics and Paralympics will then celebrate their success during a victory parade through the streets of London on Monday.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 41.

    With regards bi-polar, giovanna, perhaps some kind of adjustment say with football including a reduced number of players and more breaks during a match would be a adjustment that the actual Olympics would not provide?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 40.

    To Pete @28.I agree with you about how irritating the constant breaks fort advertising were,but channel 4 is a commercial channel so it's tied into advertising.Only the BBC can show complete coverage of any event without breaks because they get your licence fee and are not tied to advertising.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 39.

    I have worked as a gamesmaker volunteer at the Paralympics and have been at Brands Hatch all week.I was lucky as my role was part of the IT team,and very little went wrong so I was able to see the games from one of the best vantage points.
    Anyway the point is I have seen possibly the best races in my life,truly awe inspiring,and the organisation was impeccable.Well done all the athletes,and GB.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 38.

    During the Olympics I was inspired: During the Paralympics I have been humbled.

    I feel I have learnt so much just by watching these incredible athletes of all nations compete. It has brought so many emotions and thoughts from guilt over my 1970's childhood attitudes to awe and respect when thinking about what the competitors need to overcome everyday let alone to compete at the highest level.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 37.

    Only watched five minutes Olympics/Paralympics coverage, GB vs Iran Blind Football.

    Well worth £9 Billion to see a blind guy celebrating a goal by doing a somersault.

    Don't know who the guy was, don't care who won but that was just amazing.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 36.

    @30. empiredown

    Typical, when we should be using this post to sing the praises of David Weir and a fantastic in all respects Para Games you use it as an opportunity to moan

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 35.

    Both Olympics and Paralympics have been an inspiration. These are the people that should be hailed as role models, not the non-entities that get labelled "celebrities" these days. They've shown that hard work and dedication does bring it's own rewards. Well done to everyone who's taken part from all the countries around the world.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 34.

    30: I rather think everyone has chronic mental health - while a minority may have mental illnesses.
    I cannot quite imagine a category in the Paralympics for sufferers of, say, Bipolar Disorder. What would be the point?
    As I understand it, the Paralympics is designed for those with physical limitations. Everyone else (of a suitable standard) can take part in the Olympics.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    Oh and the Weirwolf was extraordinarily sensational! I'm going to have a look on the Paralympics.org website to see if there is any additional coverage of his Marathon victory beyond the 50 metres or so that we were treated to. Not sure why the OBS did that. A shame as I know C4 really wanted to showcase the event but they're at the mercy of the OBS, right? C4 are to be congratulated. Brilliant!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    should there not be a sports personality for the olympics and one for the paralympics but dont let C4 get involved.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 31.

    A side note but I was pleased with the overall coverage from Channel 4, especially the use of LEXI. It is the first paralympic games I have seen in its entirety, I was entertained by great sporting spectacle. And lastly I hope other countries embrace the games and disabilities of all creeds from now on.

  • rate this
    -24

    Comment number 30.

    Despite sport being really beneficial for chronic mental health these games are still biased towards visible physical limitations. When they fairly represent the disabled I'll support them, and until then the 'other games' are a bit of a sham really.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 29.

    The 2012 Paralympics will forever be remembered as one of the greatest sporting events ever. To witness these unbelievably gifted and talented Athletesl, setting new PB's, PR's and WR's and spurred on by the most appreciative, impartial and raucous supporters will live long in my memory. The Paralympics may shortly be coming to an end but the feelings and so many wonderful memories will live on.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 28.

    well done dave weir i was in the stadium on thursday night and saw him win his gold medal along with jonnie peacock and hannah cockcroft what a great night i was also in the stadium on saturday night and on tuesday morning and spent the day in the olympic park what an experience. i want to congratulate the bbc on their olympic coverage, however C4 coverage was very poor to many adverts.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 27.

    What an awesome inspiration the Olympics and Paralympics have been! Some of the things I have seen have been literally filled me with emotion.. THIS is what the Media need to be showcasing, not how drunk the latest reality 'celeb' got last night. Who needs that? London 2012 is an absolute triumph, and it makes me feel proud to be British! We now need the LEGACY of this to go on for years to come!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 26.

    The one thing that has annoyed me about these Paralympic games is the adverts, I can't stand them! On the subject of sports personality, the award could go to anyone, there has been lots of fantastic performances this year for sport.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 25.

    I would be extremely disappointed if David Weir is not in contention for sports personality of the year. What a paralympian, what an athlete. I am in awe of his achievements.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 24.

    Weir's on fire! Rolling down the road... Perhaps his signature tune now, if not already.

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 23.

    Congratulations to David Weir, i think he might well be a rival to Bradley Wiggins for Sports Personality, one complaint was the lack of coverage of the race by Channel 4, it was not good enough just to have occasional updates, with just the finish. I have been critical of the BBC in the past, with their coverage of the jubilee, but their coverage of the Olympics was spot on.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 22.

    @15

    I agree to an extent ;

    I think some of the presenters are well shy of the required presence.

    Balding makes me cringe. Her inappropriate gaff the other evening about wearing nothing under the desk is just about par for her course.

    Stick to the nags dear, nobody really cares about horses anyway.

 

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